Review: Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett (Spoiler-Free)

Bailey wants nothing to do with her mother and stepfather’s messy divorce, so she’s moving to California to live with her dad. But she has another reason to be excited about her new home town: It’s also the home town of the mysterious Alex, a boy she met online, who may or may not be the boy of her dreams.

To be honest, I didn’t have very high expectations for this book. I bought it primarily because I liked Night Owls (Jenn Bennett’s previous YA novel) so much, but the premise of two old-movie buffs falling in love wasn’t something that particularly excited me… and it turned out to be adorable! 💕

There’s something incredibly addictive about Bennett’s writing style, and I found myself flying through this book, completely immersed; I read nearly the whole thing in one sitting, which isn’t common for me. I was also pleasantly surprised by the lack of film references in the book. There were some scattered about the story, but not an obnoxious amount, and so one of my greatest worries about this book – that it would be full of annoying references to films I didn’t know or care about – was proved needless.

Instead, the book’s main focus was on Bailey – who, as an avoider, was one of the most personally relatable characters I’ve ever come across – and her developing relationships with the people she meets in California, of which there weren’t a huge number, but quality is definitely preferable to quantity in my opinion, and that quality was delivered in spades. I really liked her friendship with her new co-worker Grace, and the dynamic she had with Porter – the third member of this book’s kind-of-love triangle – was really cute, and frequently hilarious. And although there weren’t too many of them, her IM conversations with Alex provided some nice dramatic irony, as well as a slightly different perspective on the book’s events.

And on the topic of Alex: his true identity was very clear, very early on, despite a (short-lived) red herring being thrown into the mix. In the book’s defence, however, that particular plot twist was much more obvious because of romance tropes than because of anything that Bailey was able to find out from her sleuthing – so although I was occasionally a little frustrated about how long it was taking her to figure it out, the feeling usually passed quickly.

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